A fasting-mimicking diet results have shown that it can help lower risk factors for aging and age-related diseases.
Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, found the diet decreased risk factors for cardiovascular disease including signs of inflammation, blood pressure, as well as fasting glucose and lowered levels of a hormone called of IGF-1, which plays an important role in childhood growth and continues to have anabolic effects in adults. The FMD also shrank participants’ waistlines and resulted in weight loss, which resulted both in total body fat and trunk fat, however it didn’t reduce muscle mass.
“This study provides evidence that people can experience significant health benefits through a periodic, fasting-mimicking diet that is designed to act on the aging process,” says Valter Longo, director of the USC Longevity Institute and a professor of biological sciences for USC Davis and Dornsife.
“Prior studies have indicated a range of health benefits in mice, but this is the first randomized clinical trial with enough participants to demonstrate that the diet is feasible, effective and safe for humans.”
“Larger FDA studies are necessary to confirm its effects on disease prevention and treatment,” he adds.
What’s Fasting-Mimicking Diet?
The FMD program was patented by Dr. Longo. The diet is a low-calorie, low-carb, low-protein, and high-fat meal program that is claimed to mimic the effects of periodic fasting or water fasting over the course of five days, while still aiming to provide the body with nutrition. On the first day, the diet reduces 1,100 calories and then to around 800 calories the next 4 to 5 days overall. The diet includes plant-based whole foods such as olives, nuts, teas, and soup mixes that are 80% fat, 10% protein, and 10% carbohydrate. Exercise and alcohol are prohibited during the 5 days of restricted calories, and coffee intake is limited to almost none or one cup a day.
For the study, the researchers recruited 100 healthy participants in the trial that lasted from April 2013 to July 2015. The participants aged between 20 and 70 years, were placed on 3 cycles of a low-calorie, FMD.
Individuals in the control group were required to continue their normal diet for three months. Participants in the second group underwent the fasting mimicking diet test which lasted for three months.
People on the special diet ate foods during the fasting periods of 5 days each month. Their foods were supplied by L-Nutra, a nutrition company. FMD was designed in a way so that it is similar to the water-only fast, allowing individuals to consume between 750 and 1,100 calories each day. Meals in the fasting-mimicking diet contained accurate portions of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
The control group participants were crossed over with those on the fasting-mimicking diet after3 months.
The team discovered that each participant on the FMD lost around 6 pounds. Their waistlines also reduced by 1 – 2 inches. The participants’ systolic blood pressure dropped by 4.5 mmHG, which was in the normal range at the start of the study, and there was a 3.1 mmHg drop in their diastolic blood pressure. Additionally, their IGF-1 levels dropped between 21.7 ng/mL and 46.2 ng/mL, arriving at a range linked with lower cancer risk.
“After the first group completed their three months on the fasting diet, we moved over participants in the control group to see if they also would experience similar results,” Longo said.
“We saw similar outcomes, which provides further evidence that a fasting-mimicking diet has effects on many metabolic and disease markers. Our mouse studies using a similar fasting-mimicking diet indicate that these beneficial effects are caused by multi-system regeneration and rejuvenation in the body at the cellular and organ levels.”
“Our participants retained those effects, even when they returned to their normal daily eating habits,” he added.
Three months later, at the end of the diet, the participants were invited back for one last set of tests.
The researchers found that the helpful effects from weight loss, lower glucose, smaller waistlines, blood pressure and IGF-1 levels were sustained.
The researchers are planning to conduct a large, FDA phase III clinical trial to test the FMD on patients who are diagnosed with age-related diseases or are at a higher risk for them. They say the results from the fasting-mimicking diet study will determine whether the benefits of the diet can continue for several months.
Results of the study were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
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